Although it can be frustrating at times, there’s no one “right way” to be a parent. Even if you’re receiving parenting advice left and right — whether it’s from your friends, family, other parents, or the media — you may not know to whom to listen. Unfortunately, this can even lead parents to compare themselves to others and doubt their own parenting capabilities. However, the resulting feelings of guilt aren’t going to make it any easier to be a good parent.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the conflicting feedback, it’s important to sit back and remind yourself of what are and aren’t your responsibilities are as a parent. There’s a solid chance that you’re doing far better as a parent than you’ve been letting yourself believe.
What Parents Aren’t Responsible For
As your child’s parent, not everything is in your control — and that’s okay. Here are a few things that you aren’t responsible for, purely because you’re a parent.
Controlling Everything Your Child Says or Does
Always remember that your child is their own person, and they’re not a puppet you’re responsible for controlling. Especially if it’s taking place when they’re not under your supervision, there’s no way you can control all of your child’s behaviors. At the end of the day, your child’s free will is going to determine what they do and don’t do.
For example, you can’t force a child to do their homework when they adamantly refuse. Although you can try as hard as you can to motivate them, you can’t make your child do work against their will.
However, you can provide reasonable consequences for your child’s poor grades. You can stay in touch with their teachers. You can even set aside daily study time and monitor your child’s homework process. But ultimately, you can’t control their actions.
Earning Other People’s Approval
You shouldn’t always look to other parents or adults to approve of your parenting choices. While other adults can offer valuable advice, you don’t need to let every piece of unsolicited feedback weigh down on you. It’s crucial that you avoid treating parenting like a popularity contest. Besides, there’s no such thing as the “best” parent in your community. Everyone has a unique style and approach to parenting, and everyone’s children have unique needs.
What Parents Are Responsible For
Of course, there are also aspects of your parenting that are within your control. Here are a few examples.
Helping Your Child Independently Function
As a parent, you should be teaching your child age-appropriate skills that they can use to function independently. Over time, you should be helping your child to become more and more independent.
Early on in life, this could include skills like tying their shoelaces, writing their own name, emotionally soothing themselves, and learning to cope with teasing. Later, your child will need to develop independent skills such as driving, filling out a job application, and so on. Your child’s level of responsibility will increase as they age, and this should be reflected in your approach to parenting.
Doing Your Best
All in all, there’s only so much that is within a parent’s control — even when it feels like you need to manage everything about your child and how they’re developing.
There’s an inherent balancing act involved in being a parent. You need to split the difference between doing too little and doing too much for your child. It’s also important to find the balance between giving your child too many repercussions for poor behavior and not enough consequences.
Every Child and Family Situation is Unique
Don’t forget that you know your child better than any of the other parents offering you advice. Every child is unique, and your parenting style should adapt to best suit their needs. As the expert on your own kid, it’s up to you to make decisions that best allow them to become accountable and independent. All you can do is your best, so try not to beat yourself up too hard. Any parent has room to develop and grow, but chances are, you’re doing great.